Not a bad first day back on the job.
Friday was Kurt Busch’s first day in his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet since the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season officially began last month thanks to NASCAR lifting his indefinite suspension this week.
Busch was 17th fastest in Friday’s practice session and qualified eighth for Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
“It was good just to get back in the seat and shake hands with all the guys. Having the support of Stewart-Haas, it’s been, like family,” Busch said. “Then to see the other crew members that I know and some that I don’t know who shake my hand and say, ‘Welcome back.’
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“It feels good. For me to just get some laps in, the car seems fast.”
Busch remains under indefinite probation and must adhere to the guidelines set forth in a protective order issued against him by a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner.
Busch was suspended two days before the season-opening Daytona 500 after a family court commissioner issued an opinion in which he found “by a preponderance of the evidence” Busch had committed a domestic assault last September against ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll.
Last week, the Delaware Attorney General’s office elected not to pursue criminal charges against Busch in the matter.
Asked if he was concerned at all with his perception in the garage, Busch said, “We are here to race, that is all we are here to do.”
Biography of Bill France Sr. released
“Big Bill: The Life and Times of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.,” a biography of an American success story, was released internationally last week. The book is written by H.A. (Herb) Branham.
Branham offers readers a look into France’s relentless drive, starting with his move to Daytona Beach, Fla., and founding of NASCAR in December 1947, opening Daytona International Speedway in 1959, Talladega Superspeedway in 1969 and sealing the unprecedented Reynolds/Winston sponsorship deal.
The book draws on interviews from family members, NASCAR vice chairman Mike Helton and racing legends A.J. Foyt and Richard Petty.
Books can be purchased on Amazon.com and in bookstores nationwide and at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Gear Shop in Charlotte.
SAFER barrier additions planned
Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., plans to add more energy-absorbing SAFER barriers, but not until after next week’s NASCAR races.
The track said it will add tire barriers inside Turn 1 before next weekend. It will begin SAFER barrier installation along the frontstretch and backstretch walls that are currently uncovered after next Sunday’s race.
Phoenix added some additional tire barriers inside Turn 4 for this weekend’s races and will consider plans to add SAFER barrier in the area in time for the track’s November races.
Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter